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140 Whispered the old rhyme: “ Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood 145 Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black 150 Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
155 Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
While the red logs before us beat
And ever, when a louder blast
The great throat of the chimney laughed, 165 The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
And, for the winter fireside meet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
175 What matter how the night behaved ?
What matter how the north-wind raved ?
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray 180 As was my sire's that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Are left of all that circle now, — 185 The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Look where we may, the wide earth o'er, 190 Those lighted faces smile no more.
We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
And rustle of the bladed corn;
Their written words we linger o’er,
No step is on the conscious floor! 200 Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,) That somehow, somewhere, meet we must. Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees! 205 Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
The truth to flesh and sense unknown, 210 That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!
We sped the time with stories old,
Or stammered from our school-book lore 215 “ The chief of Gambia's golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Dame Mercy Warren's rousing word: 220 “ Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave !"
Our father rode again his ride
Sat down again to moose and samp
Beneath St. François' hemlock-trees; 230 Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
And mingled in its merry whirl
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
219. Mrs. Mercy Warren was the wife of James Warren, a prominent patriot at the beginning of the Revolution. Her poetry was read in an age that bad in America little to read under that name; her society was sought by the best men.
Where Salisbury's level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong, 240 Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals; 245 The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
And dream and sign and marvel told 250 To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
The square sail of the gundalow 255 And idle lay the useless oars.
Our mother, while she turned her wheel
At midnight on Cochecho town, 260 And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
So rich and picturesque and free,
(The common unrhymed poetry 265 Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, –
259. Dover in New Hampshire.
270 At the gray wizard's conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down, 280 Saw where in sheltered cove and bay
The ducks' black squadron anchored lay,
Then, haply, with a look more grave, 285 And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel's ancient tome,
Or Chalkley's Journal, old and quaint, 290 Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! 286. William Sewel was the historian of the Quakers. Charles Lamb seemed to have as good an opinion of the book as Whittier. In his essay A Quakers' Meeting in Essuys of Elia, he says: “Reader, if you are not acquainted with it, I would recommend to you, above all church-narratives, to read Sewel's ‘History of the Quakers.',. ... It is far more edifying and affecting than anything you will read of Wesley or his colleagues."
289. Thomas Chalkley was an Englishman of Quaker parentage, born in 1675, who travelled extensively as a preacher, and finally made his home in Philadelphia. He died in 1749; his Journal was first published in 1747. His own narrative of the incident which the poet relates is as follows: “To stop their murmuring, I told them they should not need to cast lots, which was usual in such cases, which of us should die first, for I would freely offer up my life to do them good. One said, God bless you! I will not eat any of you.' Another said “He would